Centrist in British politics, informally / THU 1-25-24 / Cautionary store sign from an alcohol retailer / Chewy, meaty dog treat / Ice cream brand in West Coast supermarkets

Thursday, January 25, 2024

Constructor: Sam Ezersky

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: Mercury is in ... — things that Mercury is in (or might be in):

Theme answers:
  • GLASS THERMOMETER (17A: Mercury is in this) (the element Mercury)
  • RETROGRADE (26A: Mercury might be in this) (the planet Mercury)
  • WNBA FINALS (45A: The Mercury might be in this) (The Phoenix Mercury)
  • "BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY" (58A: Mercury was in this) (Freddie Mercury)
Word of the Day: Wilfred OWEN (61A: English poet Wilfred ___) —
Wilfred Edward Salter Owen MC (18 March 1893 – 4 November 1918) was an English poet and soldier. He was one of the leading poets of the First World War. His war poetry on the horrors of trenches and gas warfare was much influenced by his mentor Siegfried Sassoon and stood in contrast to the public perception of war at the time and to the confidently patriotic verse written by earlier war poets such as Rupert Brooke. Among his best-known works – most of which were published posthumously – are "Dulce et Decorum est", "Insensibility", "Anthem for Doomed Youth", "Futility", "Spring Offensive" and "Strange Meeting". Owen was killed in action on 4 November 1918, a week before the war's end, at the age of 25. (wikipedia)

• • •

A Tuesday-type theme but with Thursday-type clues (attempts at trickiness all over). Still, the whole thing played well on the easy side, except (for me) one properly Thursday patch—the southeast. Would've been much easier if I had solved the southwest first. Then I could've plowed "BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY" and WNBA FINALS right across the grid, and those would've given me the traction I needed to whiz through the SE. But as it was, I didn't have those last two themers, and trying to parse them, esp. from the back end, was a little miserable. That "BAF" in WNBA FINALS really had me thinking something was wrong. Also, I had "RATS!" for "NUTS!" (47D: "Phooey!"), forgot that LARB was a Thai menu word (a Lao chopped meat salad) (57D: ___ gai (Thai dish)); had VEE for HEE (60D: "Tee" follower); and just couldn't get LIBDEM at all until I got a few crosses (49D: Centrist in British politics, informally). Miserable enough paying attention to U.S. politics right now, the last thing I wanna do is throw Britain on top of things (I do like that this puzzle has LABOUR ARTY sitting there, one answer atop the other, in the west ("What happened to your party, mate? You lose something? A "P" maybe")). [Square] for DWEEB kept up the toughness down in that neck of the woods. Had no idea (or forgot) that CURIE was a unit of any kind (54A: Unit of radioactivity). So yeah, all the difficulty, for me, was condensed into that quadrant of the grid. The theme was a cinch, and any other trouble elsewhere in the grid was momentary.

The theme is cute, even if not quite Thursday-worthy. Must've been a EUREKA moment when the constructor realized that GLASS THERMOMETER and "BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY" were both exactly 16 letters (as good a reason to expand the grid as I can think of—two theme elements need the room). There wasn't too much that was exciting in this grid, but also not too much that just WON'T DO (I like WON'T DO, btw). Things started out in very crosswordesey fashion, with me seeing right through the Greek-letter ruse at 1A: Three-point letter you won't find in Scrabble? (PSI), and then following it up with a visit to Crossworld's favorite inn, the IMARET (3D: Turkish inn). Struggled a bit to get PIG EAR (not something I ever gave me dogs) (1D: Chewy, meaty dog treat), and laughed a bit at "ATTA way!" (4D: "___ way!" ("Nice job!"), which caused some consternation when it appeared as a full seven-letter answer a few days back (I'm always gonna prefer the Indian flour for this answer—ATTA boy/girl/way feels partial, olden, flat) (oh, also, I laughed at ATACOST, which is not a good answer, but gets a lot more entertaining if you read it as someone cheering on COST: "ATTA COST! Way to go ... cost!"). ARE OUT was a tremendous "ugh" for me, especially since I really wanted the much better, much more vibrant RUN OUT (52A: Have no more in stock). That drop from RUN to mere ARE is steep and jarring. The clue on NOT NEW also made that answer feel disappointing. Like, yes, [Used] is NOT NEW when talking about books, cars, etc., but as a standalone phrase, NOT NEW works better as something like [Familiar] or even [Unoriginal]. Balked at WECARD, since I mostly see WEID, but WECARD definitely exists, so OK (45D: Cautionary store sign from an alcohol retailer) (sidenote: I cannot believe WEID hasn't found its way into the crossword yet—a new, completely real four-letter answer!? Come on! What are you all waiting for?). 

Obviously hesitated at GMEN/TMEN (9D: Some Feds). Took a few moments to get my brain to connect chips and cookies to TECH (9A: Chips, cookies, etc.). Was surprised to see the full AÇAI BOWL yet again—this makes two appearances already this year (which, in case you're counting, is two more appearances than solo women constructors have made. That's AÇAI BOWL(S): 2, solo women?: ... NAH)*. See you tomorrow.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld 

*Counting solo constructors as 1 and co-constructors as a 1/2, the M/W split this year is currently a stunning 23/2

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Conrad 5:40 AM  

I agree with Easy-Medium for a Thursday.

ASK dad at 14D, realizing that MOM was a possibility
chAR before SEAR at 18D
Wanted mId(something) at 49D (LIBDEM)
TrouncED before THRASHED at 34D, fixed quickly by KIA at 51A
@Rex run OUT before ARE OUT
Rum before RYE at 59D (I need to get out more)
tcU before SMU at 66A

At 9D I put in TMEN right away, figuring (correctly, this time) that all male Feds are G (Government) men but only some are T (Treasury) men.

Lolcat Lisa 6:22 AM  

Felt very self-consciously clever to me.

Adam 6:26 AM  

I had a tough time with the bottom half of the puzzle. Threw RETROGRADE in with no crosses, but struggled to get BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY (I had the B and thought they were going for Band called Queen or something), and I have never watched women's basketball (I barely watch men's basketball nowadays) and had a lot of trouble with "BNAF". Finally got it, though.

run OUT before ARE OUT--I was also disappointed. I enjoyed the puzzle, but it played like a Tuesday for me on the top half and a Friday on the bottom.

Fun_CFO 6:26 AM  

Yep, pretty much same as @Rex. SE only real trouble area, mainly to not knowing CURIE at all. which made it a fist fight down there even with the 2 themers completed (but they did help me trial and error to the finish - “I” in LIBDEM was last square).

Faster by a few minutes than average, so guess it played a little easier, but didn’t feel that way. I think mainly due to stuff I didn't like:

ATTA way (went right in, but groan,)
WONTDO - yuk
AREOUT - double yuk.
Double “Phooey!” clues? Really?
ECHECK - sure, whatever, but you’re just posting a check
TENS - ok answer, but hated the clue. I get it, you made the clue plural, but bowling pin locations are singular (1-10) and almost always referenced in the singular in any sort of bowling parlance.

I liked the theme - answers and straightforward concept. Also liked the NE, even though I always hesitate on the freakin “H” placement in…. (checks grid again)… PIRANHAS…maybe one day I’ll just type it right in, but today isn’t it.

Overall ok, just a few too many of my personal irks.

Smith 6:51 AM  

AllOUT before AREOUT. Liked the theme! Clever collection. The only PIGEAR I've ever heard of is the kind that means "fat chance" with an overtone of scorn: Are you going to [insert activity or location]? WHO, me? In a PIG'S EAR.

Anonymous 7:09 AM  

The LIBDEMs are to the left of Labour these days.

Andy Freude 7:14 AM  

After years of practice, I’m fairly fluent in crosswordese, but somehow I resist learning the word for that Turkish inn. Every time it turns up, I think, “Oh, THAT word again.” One of these days I’ll remember it.

SouthsideJohnny 7:22 AM  

I for sure prefer a nice straightforward theme on a Thursday and this one fit the bill. Was looking out for a WNBA reference after I saw the first theme clue / entry.

I had a bit of hesitation with Freddie being “in” BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY - was John Lennon “in” IMAGINE, for example? I guess I can wrestle it into submission because he was “in” the music video(s). Although the most famous one is just a video of a live performance of the song, at least he was in the video. Always a good Thursday when that’s all I really have to quibble about.

Twangster 7:23 AM  

Thought WECARD was going to be WECARE for a second ... as in we care about our alcoholic customers.

Rich Glauber 7:30 AM  

I thought it was a GREAT PUZZLE! Excellent theme answers, fresh cluing, lots of pop! Loved it... Medium here.

Anonymous 7:42 AM  

Not crazy about the theme. I expect something much more clever on a Thursday, and the Bohemian Rhapsody one is a *major* stretch. The thing he “was in” was Queen—when has anyone ever used the construction “[artist] was in [song]?” It sounds like something a Martian would say.

Presley was in Hound Dog?
McCartney was in Let it Be?
Swift was in Shake it Off?

Am I missing something?

JD 7:43 AM  

Super clever, liked it a lot. Toughest moments were Either Or (Eitheror? Doh!) and LibDem, with a hitch not remembering the Brit U in Labour, so colourful). Love the word Torpid, but only in the Abstract.

Anonymous 7:44 AM  

Thinking of the Olympic sport, I smugly wrote in “houses” for 43D, Curling targets. That made the southern half much more difficult than it needed to be.

Son Volt 7:44 AM  

Fun time - not a testy Thursday trick but intelligent fill and overall smooth. Liked RETROGRADE but all the themers work - nice without a revealer.

RYE Whiskey

The British politics was cute - only knew OWEN from watching Downton. I’ve been told that the Costco vanilla ice cream is made by DREYERS. Limited 3s and not a lot of garbage here. Agree with Rex that CARD sounds 70s ish. Clue for MAGI was top notch.

Pleasant Thursday morning solve.

Could go Steve Miller but this is my favorite MERCURY Blues

Anonymous 7:46 AM  

RUN OUT before ALL OUT before ARE OUT - a steep drop indeed.

pabloinnh 7:54 AM  

Not so easy here. Had trouble seeing RETROGRADE (Know the word, didn't connect it with Mercury), didn't know ANITA as a Pointer sister, apparently there's a DREYERS ice cream, news to me, and a LIBDEM? OK, if you say so. Also agree that the BAF string was a puzzlement.

Someone is going to complain about the egregious POC ARSONS, so I will. Just no.

Impossible not to like this one however as one of the first things I ran into was IMARET, which is definitely a classic. Ghosts of crosswords past.

A different kind of Thursday, SE. Still Eclectic enough to tickle my fancy, and thanks for all the fun.

Chris Menzel 7:56 AM  

How could you fail to comment on the hideousness of MILE as a word that goes with “air”? I’m guessing no one on earth has ever spoken or written of an AIR MILE, singular. And AREOUT? Yeesh. The themers were fun but I still ugh’d my way through this one…

Lauren C 8:09 AM  

I assume that means Mercury sang in Bohemian Rhapsody. He was in it and so was the rest of Queen. I was hoping for a Queen reference so I'll take what I can get. (Or - another stretch - maybe the clue refers to the movie. Mercury was a character in the movie.)

Dr.A 8:12 AM  

I did like this puzzle, and since I don’t know Sam I was sort of hoping that was a female Sam as in Samantha, but alas no, still being very sexist, NYT. I don’t understand it when I see so many women’s names on puzzles from other sources. They are out there, so what’s the deal??

Joe Dipinto 8:19 AM  

Re: "Bohemian Rhapsody", I'm guessing it means Freddie Mercury (as portrayed by Rami Malek) was a character in the movie of that name a few years ago. It's still an awful clue/answer. Like saying Robert Oppenheimer is in "Oppenheimer".

It won't do, I tell you.

Joe Dipinto 8:19 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lewis 8:20 AM  

Oh, if it’s an end-of-week Ezersky, I shut the world out and hunker down. I need the focus combined with calm to give my brain elbow room, and I want quiet so I can pick up on nuance. I know that at puzzle’s end I’ll wow at the talent that produced such loveliness, but during the puzzle’s during, it will need to be one-on-one and nothing else.

Sam, who’s made uber-wickedly-clued themeless puzzles, notched it down a touch for Thursday. Still, there was enough bite to create delicious-for-my-brain drag. There were also a few “Whee!” moments of splat-fill, not to mention wit in the theme. That is, a terrific solving mix. Every here and there, I like a Thursday without pyrotechnics, the focus simply on Thursday-level difficulty, and here it was.

I liked the overall spark – nine answers new to the NYT puzzle, and 12 long answers (eight or more letters). Also, the junk-free grid, but that is an Ezersky given. I also liked the serendipity of three answers that sound like letter pairs: ARTY, SEE YOU, and OWEN.

But mostly I loved the quality and shine. Sam, your puzzles are gifts to be unwrapped, and I’m extraordinarily grateful that you’re in the crossword game. Thank you!

Peter P 8:21 AM  

@Andy Freude -- I'm in the same boat as you with IMARET. Yesterday I was lamenting the fact that I could never quite remember Isao Aoki's name. I still had to look it up right now, but I'm getting closer to having it stick. Maybe if we try remembering IMARET as almost being an anagram of minaret? Or it's kinda like an INN+ARET, with the two Ns smooshed into an M? I'm stretching here. But the sillier, the easier to recall. Maybe someone else has a good mnemonic for this one.

This one started out so slow that I was ready to throw in the towel after five minutes. I think it was at BOHEMIANRHAPSODY that I got the confidence to finish it. It still ended up being sluggish, but finished only a minute and a half slow for Thursday.

I've never had an ACAI BOWL, so that may as well be the name of an end-of-year collegiate football competition. That ACAI dropped fairly quickly, since it seems to be one of crossword constructor's favorite words, but I couldn't figure out BOWL for an embarassingly long time as I wanted something like "shake" or "drink" or "frappe" or some other non-four-letter word to fit there. I had no idea smoothie bars served bowls of any kind, or anything that requires a spoon, even.

ATTA way! was another stumbling block for me. I, for whatever reason, have never heard this construction. ATTA boy! ATTA girl! Sure. OUtdated, but sure. ATTA way sounds to me like it should be redirecting someone: "No! It's not this way, it's ATTA way!"

Enjoyable, surprisingly straightforward Thursday, and nice to have a week off of a rebus puzzle (though I do like them; just good to have variety.)

Anonymous 8:54 AM  

Larb, dweeb, dreyers crossing was awful. Otherwise, no issues.

Anonymous 9:00 AM  

Fun_CFO, I came here expecting the overall response to be EXACTLY yours. With the exception of the theme, thought it was a tortured puzzle.

kitshef 9:04 AM  

My original plan was going to be to complain about Freddie Mercury being 'in' Bohemian Rhapsody, a phrasing that just doesn't work. I seem several people have already brought this up, but I'm going to do it again as it's just so weird. I even was going to use John Lennon and 'Imagine' as my example. Clue could have been "Mercury was portrayed in this".

Possibly I am misremembering, but I think this often happens with Sam Ezersky. Good puzzles, well clued, but one or two WTF?? clunker clues.

Played hard for me, despite the themers being (mostly) easy. Among themers, I only had trouble with the beginning of ___ THERMOMETER. Among non-themers, PIG EAR gave me the most trouble, and also ick.

RooMonster 9:06 AM  

Hey All !
ThursPuz? Ok, had to check my calendar to be sure.

Noticed the 16 wideness, so there's that.

The Mercury might be in the WNBA FINALS, but if you go against the Las Vegas Aces, you may very well lose, as the Aces are two-time back-to-back Champs!

Does Sam get a bonus in his check for having a puz published? And how is this not a WedsPuz?

I'm sure it wasn't too easy to get clean fill, so I appreciate that. Some of the cluing was odd, but some was nice. Having ACAI BOWL again got a chuckle. Is HERSTORY a real word? I get the gist, but wondering if it's in the OED.

LARB? Har.

One F

Anonymous 9:14 AM  

Some of the fill felt forced/unnatural for me this week (AREOUT, SEEYOU) but I loved the Wilfred OWEN name drop and OLDS made me chuckle.
I definitely felt like we were being trolled and/or gaslit with the second appearance of ATTAWAY in a week’s time.

egsforbreakfast 9:21 AM  

A: What would it take for you to tell me the temperature?

I'm at SeaTac, heading for Kitzbuhel!

Alice Pollard 9:37 AM  

Lewis - I have to say, your posts are often as enjoyable as the puzzles themselves. Especially Mondays Top 5, but today was a gem. Just wanted to let you know. - Alice P

Lewis 9:39 AM  

@Alice Pollard -- Thank you so much! That brought a big smile to my face!

B$$ 9:44 AM  

Wow, quite a bit of nit-picking on what was a pretty wonderful puz.
TECH was borderline brilliant.
Overall this was a pleasure to solve, even if the theme became apparent pretty early on.

Rex's ranting about gender has gotten old.
It's not about the gender of the constructor; it's about the skill they bring to the table.

Does he like Amy Coney Barrett (sp?) sitting on the Supreme Court simply because she is female? Does her being female convey some automatic goodness? Highly doubtful.
Rex, you've certainly paraded your progressive values - - - we all get it. Time to let it go & just focus on the puzzles. And today's was wonderful.

Anonymous 9:47 AM  

RooMonster - I came here for the same thought about HERSTORY. Should the clue not need a "?" ? Seems like a pun on the word "history" . As I entered it I thought to myself "well, I'll be changing this one soon" - but it stuck.

And I want to echo Alice's comment about Lewis's posts - always succinct and on-target.

efrex 9:54 AM  

Wow; guess I'm just not on the same wavelength as everyone else for this one, This played very hard for me, with a few "no idea" entries (IMARET, TABU, LARB) completely gumming up the works. Cute theme, but took forever to finish even after figuring it out, which is not my favorite way to do a puzzle. I like my Thursdays to have hard themes, not easy-themes-with-hard-fill, so this wasn't gonna be my favorite no matter what, but the slog definitely didn't help. Oh, well - I'll do better next time, I guess...

Gary Jugert 10:02 AM  

A tale of two puzzles: The top half was super easy and the bottom half fought me to the end. I think LARB, CURIE, and LIBDEM mostly laughed in my face.

I haven't seen the phrase HERSTORY since my women's studies classes in the 80s. Kind of a creaky box to open for that little pun, but at the NYTXW lately with its 23/2 gender gap, I suppose it makes sense to use quaint olden colloquialisms fer th' ladies.

What's up with all the bullfighting clues? Three this month. Did my favorite slush pile editor visit Pamplona with his parents for the holidays? How about dialing back the bovine murder please? Cows are people too, ya know.

Tee-Hee: ["Tee"]-HEE.


1 Murderer's excitement at stumbling upon a plan to dispose of the body.
2 Lugging around gold, frankincense, and myrrh through Kensington Palace.
3 University professor's mantra.
4 Playing hide and seek with hearing aids.
5 Destroyed a darüzziyafe in Diyarbakır.
6 Dad's slick and humorous asset for maintaining "the cool one" status.
7 Storm stare.
8 Stop a college throb.
9 What I lug around on my hot arms.
10 To burn or not to burn, that is the question.


My Fascinating Crossword Uniclue Keepsake from Last Year: A non-stinky father figure in Uruguay. TENABLE PAPI.


Epicurus 10:26 AM  

Definitely more on the "medium" side for me, but I enjoyed it. Also, too, G/TMEN was a classic "kealoa."

JustJim 10:30 AM  

A tip of the hat to Sam Ezersky for the LARB DREYERS cross, which skillfully exploited my East Coast ignorance of what West Coast supermarkets favor in ice cream and Thai cuisine. Not knowing the term, I guessed LAMB gai, just as I imagine Sam planned, along with no help from the cross. Masterful.

walrus 10:32 AM  

yesterday was a downs-only solve and now this. i get that thursdays don’t require a rebus/multi-sectional fill, but what makes this a thursday? the clues were to a wednesday at best—and it’s from one of the nyt puzzles staff. this week has been completely underwhelming.

Whatsername 10:44 AM  

Shuddered when I saw the constructor name as my HERSTORY has not shown a record of much success with either Mr. E's crosswords or his spelling game. But this time - EUREKA! - I managed to navigate successfully without too much difficulty.

WNBA FINALS was the hardest for me but I had an inkling it was probably some sporting term. Was mildly disappointed that the Mercury automobile did not make the cut: "A Mercury could be in this." / PARKING LOT.

Anonymous 10:46 AM  

Really expected to hear a rant about HERSTORY. Isn’t that term a bit condescending?

Nancy 10:53 AM  

Gosh. LIB DEM is a centrist in British politics? In the U.S of A, you're considered a pinko Commie Marxist revolutionary.

But LIB DEM was actually one of the easier entries for me in the SE where I had most of my trouble. My age means that long before any liquor store had ever thought to post a sign that said WE CARD, I was way, way over legal drinking age.

What I don't know about the WNBA would fill a basketball arena -- and it didn't help that I had RATS instead of NUTS where the N of FINALS should have gone.

Also the only unit of radioactivity I could think of was RAD. CURIE would have helped me see the wonderfully clued BICEPS -- but I had B??EPS and all I could think of was BLEEPS.

Whenever there are some capitalized words like RIO and SORRENTO, I always wonder if it's a car? I only know one 3-letter car, KIA, and the A went with THRASHES. "Aha, PEEKABOO!" I said of the toddler's game.

I got ENT from the very clever "stuffy client" clue without even looking at the grid and knowing the length of the answer. This made me feel smart on a day when I was somewhat less than brilliant.

Conclusion: this was a lively and interesting puzzle that made deft use of a multi-faceted word you wouldn't necessarily think of to build a puzzle around. And I think it works beautifully here. Nice job, Sam.

Gary Jugert 11:05 AM  

@B$$ 9:44 AM
There once was a cute East Ender
who refused to talk about gender
"It's the quality you see
between the neck and the knee,
and how she squeals if you bend her."

beverly c 11:28 AM  

Ah, the clues! Eventually I realized there wasn’t any trick. Except great clues. What struck me was - I had a slightly easier time discovering the longer words than the shorter answers.
In the end, I had an error at the cross of LIBDEM and SMU. Alas.

BTW I'm totally okay with Mercury being in the movie.

Surphart 11:28 AM  

Dropped in THEROCKBANDQUEEN and promptly backed it out as none of the crosses were hitting... Hands up for rats and libdem slowing me down in south east. Our 12 year old Black lab, Maxwell Edison gets a pig ear every night for happy hour!

Bob Mills 11:31 AM  

I also had "trounced" instead of THRASHED, which made that area hard. Otherwise I thought it was a fun puzzle, and using the different meanings of "mercury" worked well. I finally solved it after working hard.

One bitch for Sam Exersky...MAGI is a plural noun, so the clue would have been clearer as "CHRISTMAS PARTIES?" I know "party" is sometimes a plural, but I think it was misleading here.

Elizabeth Sandifer 11:43 AM  

Dodged a Natick on LARB/DREYERS, but good lord, don’t cross those.

GILL I. 11:46 AM  

Well, at first I thought this might be an undemanding puzzle. Could it possibly not have a sneaky rebus. Will I have to look at this upside-down or sideways? Will my normal Thursday angst, agita dyspepsia kick in? No...It's not terribly complicated...BUT, it was hard. I certainly didn't find this easy. I had exactly two answers in my grid: IMARET and DREYERS. I buy the chocolate mint. Then, I got up from my comfy chair and poured my self a little Pinot.
Put thinking cap on and forget that Sam always makes you nervous.
So I go back to the attic and try to figure out the dog treat. I was pretty sure about PSI. So, it starts with a P. My dogs eat anything so......move on. I remembered ANITA. TORPID goes in just off the T. More to tackle. EGADS and NUTS, I'm thinking. Cheat at TECH. Oh wait...TORO and PIRANHAS and MARCO. Old friends.
Second cheat: PIG EAR. Never bought one because I'm sad for the pig. With G in place and a few other down answers, I get GLASS THERMOMETER. Smile. Move one to the next.
Since no sneaky tricks are involved here, I head for the others and hope they might be breezy. Tsunami knocked on my door.
No more cheats but boy did I scratch my head all over the place. I don't know what HER STORY is. E CHECK had me sipping more wine. BICEPS as clued (Oh, wait!....I cheated on that one too!)...And CURIE? Who are you?. Can you explain to this LIB SMU what the WNBA FINALS have to do with Mercury? Is that a town? A newspaper?
BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY...I knew you'd be in the Mercury crowd...You made me smile.
Final score: 3 cheats and many sips of Pinot. I also looked up a zillion answers just to make sure my answers were correct. Puzzle 3...GILL happy face.
I learned new things that I will forget but I was able to build up my BICEPS and enjoy my wine.
Oh what will Friday do to me?

Masked and Anonymous 11:58 AM  

Tough puz to place, day-wise. The (less-than-totally-memorable) theme is closer to a Mon-TuesPuz placement, while the fillins sport some stuff that definitely have more of a late-week vibe. LARB's only other appearance had it corralled in the FriPuz pen, f'rinstance.
Clues, of course, can mostly be adjusted for the puzday.

staff weeject pick: NAH. Like its oddball-different clue. It was retrograde-y.

some faves: The PIRANHAS spellin challenge. CLEANCUT. WONTDO [yo, @RP]. PEEKABOO. GAWK. TECH clue.

Closest M&A could find in the Official Help Desk Dictionary to PIGEAR was PAGER. Closest to LIBDEM was LIBIDO or, adjusted for my neck of the woods, LICKEDEM. Closest to ACAIBOWL was ALAMOBOWL.
Closest to DREYERS was BREYERS. Closest to LARB was either LAMB or LARD.

Thanx, Sam E-Z dude. Had its good moments. Sorta gets a mercurial Larb-Imaret Salute.

Masked & Anonymo5Us


Joel Palmer 12:08 PM  


jberg 12:59 PM  

I'm perfectly fine with Mercury being in the movie; maybe a tiny stretch, but worth it for the theme. But I actually remembered IMARET, so I was in a jovial, forgiving mood. I loved the theme; it could also have included OLYMPUS.

I started with run OUT even while thinking it's too dynamic for the static clue; then CHARM drove me to All OUT, a better answer if incorrect. But I couldn't keep myself from that RAID on the refrigerator.

As the clue says, DFEYERS is a West Coast thing; I've only seen it in crosswords, where the first 18 times I put in bREYERS instead. Now I've got it down cold (as it were), except that I spelled it with an 'i' making by drink have piE in it.

I liked LABOUR and LIB-DEM; if only 15-D could have been TORy.

jae 1:01 PM  

Medium for me. I did not know that Mercury is an WNBA team or the label LIBDEM. Also chAR before SEAR, laserS before ARSONS, and a bit of trouble spelling PIRANHAS .

A fun Thursday, clever and amusing with plenty of sparkle. Liked it a bunch!

SAS 1:20 PM  

IMARET is of course crosswordese. The clue usually has to do with inn or hospice. The wikipedia page on Imaret defines it as a soup kitchen in a compound that may include a caravanserai - which is defined as a Turkish inn. Maybe it's time to update the clue?

Oh - and someone should use caravanserai!

WordyGurdy 1:28 PM  

Sorry, but HERSTORY is *NOT* a word. The word "history" (from the Greek "historia," meaning "inquiry" or "narrative") has nothing to do with "he" or "his."

I've also seen the coinage "womynstruate," mistaking the "men" in "menstruate" for the modern-day English term for the masculine gender, rather than the Latin "menses" ("month") -- and, for that matter, mistaking the root of the word "man" as meaning "male," when in fact the original Germanic / Old English "man" (or "mann") signified a genderless "one," as it still does in German).

Equally silly, equally inaccurate -- both make the user look ignorant rather than politically righteous.

johnk 1:31 PM  

I guess my problem with this puzzle was primarily due to the Covid that I'm currently enduring. Never got the disease until now, after receiving every possible jab of vax.
But having said that, ARE OUT? NOT NEW?
If I had an appetite, I could EAT A SANDWICH.
Ah! Here's the next one: NOT EAT A SANDWICH, clued as "Eschew chewing".

SharonAK 1:31 PM  

This one "Thrashed " me. Did not find it easy for a Thursday. Looking back at at, a not sure why.
Had the same thought re "Some feds" as Conrad 5:40.

Some one earlier ranted about the wrongness of" air mile". What's his problem.. Usually it is in the plural "air miles" bu it sounded perfectly good to me.

What is "larb"? Do I want to know? Can't remember ever seeing that on a menu. But then, don't have many Thai restaurants here. They were our favorites years go in S F.

Ha someone already explained that "Bohemian Rhapsody" is a movie that Mercury was in - not a song?

JazzmanChgo 1:37 PM  

Is a singer "in" the song he sings? Never heard it put that way. Mercury was "in" the band Queen, who performed the song "Bohemian Rhapsody." I think that saying he was "in" that song is a stretch, to say the least.

Greg Chavez 1:48 PM  

It doesn’t matter. Crosswords aren’t trivia challenges, though some trivia knowledge is required to seed the fill. You have to think orthogonally and with respect to the crossing answers. Sometimes this means going with a guess that seems silly, counterintuitive and, sometimes, in direct opposition to established fact.

Anonymous 1:48 PM  

Amen to B$$’s gender constructor comment. I wrote something along those lines about a month ago, but it wasn’t published.

Georgia 1:58 PM  

I moved the "h" two times, ha!

Peter P 2:13 PM  

@WordyGurdy - yes, "herstory" is a word. Look in any contemporary dictionary. It may not be a word you like, but it's a word. Honestly, I haven't really heard it used since the 90s, but the people who coined it I'm pretty sure are well aware that the "his" in the word "history" does not refer to the personal pronoun "his," but they did make the observation that "history" tends to be a telling of "his story," i.e. from a male perspective, so why don't we make up a word for history as seen through the feminist perspective that is succinct and memorable? (Even if some people find it inane.) The neologism is both cheeky and serious.

I also doubt the replacement of "e" with a "y" in "womyn" was the result of an etymological misapprehension. It's symbolic.

CDilly52 2:20 PM  

It’s day 20 here in Santa Rosa CA, and I am still camping at my kids’ house hoping my moving truck will appear and working on my Grandma skills. My granddaughter just astonished her 5th grade teacher and all the adults here with her math reasoning skills that are somewhere north of 10th grade, literally off the standard charts used for whatever test it was. Since the formal adoption, she has started to trust that home can always be safe and that she is loved even when she is testing the limits and being a moody “tween.” Sometimes the system does work. While I wait, I have already gotten involved in some worthy civic projects. I think I’m going to be pretty happy with my new chapter.

I was very happy with today’s puzzle. Like @Lewis, seeing an Ezersky byline makes me happy. The cleverness always gives me a tussle and he always has some humor to make me smile.

Today ‘s theme seemed pretty easy for a Thursday although I had to skip the second one not being sure about the “might be.” I have almost zero knowledge of astrology. And I had to resort to the downs to figure out if the first one was going to be BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY or not. For that alone, I appreciate the use of all the different tenses to describe possible appearances of Mercury.

Upon completion, I thought that Sam E might have been thinking of Freddie Mercury and the über famous BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY (or maybe hearing the tune) and the theme light bulb came on with such sudden luminosity that a puzzle was born.

I have no complaints, and enjoyed the solve. Got a good chuckle from the ENT clue because my brain, upon seeing ENT went immediately to Tolkien’s Ents of Fanghorn and I was well and truly confused for a bit. That’s Ezersky.

Thanks Mr. E, and thank you to everyone in the neighborhood. You all have helped me pass the frustrating time enjoyably as I figure out apartment living for the first time in over 50 years, and as I wait… and wait . . . and . . . wait. Going to try to get internet established today. Later.

Carola 2:36 PM  

For me, mostly easy, except for the NW corner, where "challenging" verged on a DNF, as four words just about finished me off: 1) a mistake: ASK hiM; 2) a complete unknown: PIGEAR; 3) a blank stare at 1A, and 4) a typo: TORPIc. That mistaken c caused 26A to end in RAcE. Was there something like a "big RiG RAcE" involving Mercury trucks? (not that they exist). I had to take a 90-minute break before I could come back and sort it all out. I got 3 of the Mercurys easily; RETROGRADE was, obviously, the last thing in.

Help from previous puzzles: IMARET. No help from previous puzzles: where to put the h in PIRANHA. Help from being ignorant: my only association with Freddie Mercury is BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY; I couldn't have come up with Queen, so avoided that snag of what he was "in."

bocamp 2:48 PM  

Thx Sam; so far, so good! 😊

Downs-o looking good, except for the SE where I can't suss out 47D (NA_S) & 49D (LORD_ _).

If ANIONS, CANOE & SEE YOU are all correct, then NUTS WON'T work. Otoh, if 48D A_ _O__, or 49D L__D__ is wrong, then maybe I can get NUTS into the picture.

Have no idea re: the theme. Whatever it is, doesn't seem to have any bearing on any other parts of the puz. 🤔

In any event, it's been a good battle, and I WON'T be too disappointed if I can't figure it out. :)
Peace 🕊 🇺🇦 ~ Compassion ~ Tolerance ~ Kindness ~ Freudenfreude & a DAP to all 👊 🙏

SarahP 3:01 PM  

Rex, I share your concern about the ratio of male to female constructors. Really terrible.

Unless, of course, Shortz offers us a similar run of women in February.

Nancy 3:52 PM  

@Son Volt (7:44) -- Gee, I was so, so sure that your "Rye Whiskey" was going to be THIS ONE!!.

Anonymous 4:20 PM  

I thought it was cute and enjoyable. South east most challenging. And learned that retrograde motion (my first thought for 17 across) glass thermometer, and Bohemian Rhapsody all have the same number of letters.

Anonymous 4:52 PM  

I've never heard of ICE in terms of "icing" a victory?! I had ACE in there for a long time cause I don't know the names of the Pointer Sisters and sure maybe one of them is named ANATA? Makes more sense than "ice a victory" honestly

SMCortland 4:56 PM  

Gosh, I found today’s puzzle very difficult! My slowest solve time this year. Found so many clues inscrutable, but at least the themers came easily.
Still waiting for female authors, and won’t quit grumbling about the gender inequity.

bocamp 5:08 PM  

Ok, finally nailed it!

Ironically, it was ARSON that lit the light. Everything in that corner fell nicely into place very quickly, even tho it was badly lit.

Had I known LARB gai, that would've given me LET, and the 'S' may have been intuitive.

Coincidentally, had ACAI BOWL in a xword yd, clued something to the effect of 'A Brazilian treat'. So, that went in right next to PEEKABOO and TRouncED (before THRASHED).

All said and done, an excellent challenge, well met! :)

Agree with @pabloinnh; IMARET was indeed learned from xwords of yore, and was the first to fall in this one.

Also, agree with @Peter P (8:21 AM); I always think of 'minaret' and IMARET together. And, also, have been repeating the mnemonic IS 'AO' A-OK (with an I added at the end) (thx to @CT2Napa). Not the easiest mnemonic to recall, but I think it will work – with a primer each Monday, until it becomes firmly implanted.

@johnk (1:31 PM)

🙏 for a speed and full recovery! :)
Peace 🕊 🇺🇦 ~ Compassion ~ Tolerance ~ Kindness ~ Freudenfreude & a DAP to all 👊 🙏

Son Volt 5:50 PM  

I love Woody’s version of that song @Nancy - it was the first one I knew!

Anonymous 5:50 PM  

If I solve it is a great puzzle…which I did. Excellent clueing.

Anonymous 5:58 PM  

I’m not a fast solver but I sped through this. Did not feel like a Thursday but I had fun.

Anonymous 6:28 PM  

The party is a party of three magi

SarahK 6:52 PM  

Please, enough with the ATTAs! I'm 55 and have never said 'ATTA Boy', 'ATTA Girl' or even heard it (if my memory is correct)!

Teedmn 6:52 PM  

@Carola, you could have had RETRO-GRAcE, the preprandial prayer from yesteryear.

A local Thai restaurant's sign reads “We LARB you”.

pabloinnh 7:29 PM  

@SarahK-Way to stand up for relevant answers! ATTA girl!

Anonymous 7:48 PM  

I liked the puzzle. As a newb (or noob, depending on the puzzle) I’m getting better at these later week ones. And I love coming here after to read all of your comments.

Two notes -

1.) I took Freddy Mercury in BR to mean the movie. Still a stretch.

2.) Big missed opportunity for an Elliott Smith clue for EITHEROR.

Anonymous 8:09 PM  

Due to its toxicity, mercury has not been used in thermometers for quite a while. Alcohol has replaced it.

Anonymous 9:14 PM  

DNF because I decided gech and gmen was more likely than tech and tmen.I just didn't think tmen was a thing. Will Google after comment but guessing treasury department.. What? Counterfeit detection unit? Sigh

Anonymous 9:38 PM  

Disliked air mile, too. Is it something you accumulate as a frequent flier? That context is plausible but I’ve still never heard the term.

68Charger 9:46 PM  

I have heard of retrograde but have trouble visualizing it, when applied to Mercury. How does anyone even track it for very long when its orbit is so close to the sun? About the only time it can be seen with the unaided eye is at sunrise, sunset and during an eclipse. Just wondering...

Anonymous 10:17 PM  

That’s funny. You’re totally right, but I read this as the specific type of excitement Freddie Mercury was in… you know… that good ol’ *bohemian rhapsody*. More coffee for me tomorrow

Deb Sweeney 10:30 PM  

Really wanted "the Mercury" to be in a PARKING LOT. But the WNBA Final was also good!

CDilly52 12:52 AM  

Hand up for never getting the”h” on the first - or often second - try!

Anonymous 1:18 AM  

It’s confusing to me how the author thinks that something “hipster” has anything to do with art.

Anonymous 7:42 AM  


RAD2626 12:11 PM  

Fun puzzle. Slightly different and enjoyable Thursday fare. And while Sam can’t help not being a woman, lots of women references in his puzzle: HERSTORY, WNBA, Madame CURIE, ANITA Pointer, and even ASK MOM. Only men to appear were Wilfred OWEN , and ice cream founder William DREYER, although their CEO is a woman. I will graciously resist the cheap shot opportunity PIG EAR offers.

Anonymous 5:51 PM  

No one had PEE for 1A?

Here's why it was my first choice:

The only three-point letters in the game are B, C, M, and P.

Out of those, the ones you won't find in "Scrabble" are M and P.

"M' is spelled EM so it must be PEE!

(A month late to the game, but oh well...)

Aviatrix 3:18 AM  

Anonymous, I started with PEE, too. And kept trying to include GREEK PANTHEON, PARKING LOT and PERIODIC TABLE.

Anonymous 10:25 AM  

AREOUT ruined what could have been a good puzzle. Too bad the editors let that slip by.

spacecraft 11:04 AM  

O Thursday, where is thy sting? No rebus, no thematic trickery, just...a puzzle. And the theme has to do with (different) Mercuries. OK, maybe that nudges it into Tuesday. But wow, what's in store for us on the weekend? *shudder*

Unknown LARB isn't enough; the crosses were fair. Easy-peasy. ECHECK & TMEN: NAH. Bogey.

Wordle bogey.

Anonymous 11:07 AM  

Mercury may be in retrograde? Never. Retrograde means a planet appears to go "backwards" i.e. east to west rather than the usual west to east. Only planets farther from the Sun than the Earth is can show us retrograde

Diana, LIW 12:34 PM  

I came this close, this close, to giving up a couple of times. "I must go check my answers and look up some names" said I.

But no. I kept at it. And triumph was mine.

That movie Mercury was my saving grace.

Lady Di

Diana, LIW 12:39 PM  

My silly question of the day - why is PSI a "three-point letter?"

Diana, LIW

Burma Shave 12:53 PM  


It’s NOTNEW, it’s OLD, when WE AREOUT,
it’s the FINAL time that I SEEYOU.


Diana, LIW 1:05 PM  

Oh. The shape is a three-pronged thingie. Duh.

Diana, Waiting

Anonymous 2:51 PM  

Enjoyable workable puzzle spoiled by the bizarre bottom. Ruined a good time.

Anonymous 3:41 PM  

@Anonymous 6:28pm :
Plus, the only time you hear party of one, is at a restaurant, unless somebody is being sarcastic.

Anonymous 4:17 PM  

Fun puzzle with some Twisted Sister clues. Saw early on, the play on the different uses of the word Mercury, but still had my ears pricked up , looking for the Thursday level difficulty, but it wasn't there.
I got to fly for free to California last week, but now I only have one air mile left.
Hey boss, we are out of Dreyer's vanilla ice cream.

Anonymous 5:06 PM  

DREYERS, Breyer’s, Meyer’s, Edy’s… I scream for ice cream crosswordese.

Anonymous 5:11 PM  

Scaramouche! Scaramouche! Can you do the Fandango?

rondo 6:51 PM  

That's a bunch of Mercuries. When the St. Paul cops were driving Ford Crown Vics, a former chief had a Mercury Grand Marquis. Nice little perk.
Very easy puz.
Wordle eagle!!!

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